In most situations, a car accident claim is not going to go to trial. Because litigation is an expensive and drawn-out process, it is beneficial for both sides to reach a fair financial settlement agreement instead.
The best way to ensure that you obtain a satisfactory settlement of your car accident claim is to present your most compelling case to the insurance company through a detailed demand letter and persuasive follow-up negotiations. In this article, we’ll offer some tips on settling your car accident claim.
Be advised, it is best to consult with a car accident lawyer in Miami before proceeding with handling the claim yourself. For a Free Consultation, contact our office.
However, the insurance claims adjusters still want you to settle for the lowest amount possible. To get a settlement that is fair to you, you need to present your case with compelling evidence in a detailed demand letter. Then, you have to follow up with persuasive negotiation. It helps to have a bit of guidance in this process, so consider the following tips for receiving a fair settlement.
The Demand Letter Is The First Step
The demand letter is where you present the circumstances of the accident, the associated costs in medical treatment, vehicle repairs, lost wages, etc., and set the stage for your upcoming negotiations. This is where you are able to really present your case to the insurance company.
An attorney can draft your demand letter to ensure that it adequately describes the events that caused your accident and includes the details of your medical treatment and expenses, the work and wages that you missed out on due to the accident, and the costs of repairs to your vehicle. The demand letter will start with a request for a particular sum of money that will actually be higher than what you need to allow room for negotiation.
Negotiation Is The Second Step
After receiving your demand letter, the insurance company will review it along with any documentation you provided. Typically the insurer will make an initial offer to settle the claim. Don’t be surprised if the first offer is a “lowball” offer. Just as your demand letter requested more than you were willing to accept, the insurer will usually offer less than they have actually allotted to pay your claim. Therefore, you should refrain from accepting the first offer extended to you by the insurer.
The insurance company is going to review all of the information and evidence that you present in your demand letter and give you an offer to settle your case. This is likely going to be a very low offer that you should not accept. While you present an request for more than what you’re willing to agree to, the insurance company presents an offer for less than what they’re likely to agree to. Your attorney should clearly decline the first offer in a response letter that explains why it is not an acceptable agreement, whether it will not cover your medical bills or does take into account pain and suffering.
The response letter will also remind the insurance company about the important points that were made within the demand letter along with a counter-demand that is lower than your first offer. A simple guideline for this process is to counter-demand with an amount that is lower than the first demand by about the same amount as the insurance company’s first offer. For example, if your original demand was $10,000 and the insurance company offered $2,000, you could counter-demand for the difference between the two amounts at $8,000.
This will not be the insurance company’s final counter-offer and it will not be your final counter-demand. The negotiations will continue until you reach an agreeable amount. If this process should stall, then you need to attempt to provide more information and evidence to support your demands.
Settling In Mediation Is An Optional Step
Sometimes it helps to bring in a neutral party to help the two sides reach an agreeable settlement amount. There are professional personal injury mediators who can help with their extensive legal background in settling personal injury cases.
This is a great way to bring in a new perspective in a professional who can evaluate each side of the case and point out strengths and weaknesses. The goal of your mediator will be to encourage a solution that is acceptable to everyone involved.
Accepting The Offer Is The Final Step
When you receive an offer that you think is reasonable, double-check that it is truly enough to cover your expenses and provide compensation for your losses after paying your attorney’s fees. Sometimes, the offer may be verbal, and this will necessitate that you write it out and indicate your acceptance of the specific amount offered.
You will then have to sign a release to receive your check. This is a legal document where you agree to settle the case for a particular sum of money and that you will not pursue further claims in the future.
Once you sign the release and receive your settlement, there is no going back. Make sure that you will not need further compensation to cover future expenses before you sign it. If you are ready to sign, then you should send the release back with a letter that requests that the check be sent in a timely fashion. The insurance company will send the check to your personal injury attorney, and your attorney will disperse that money to you after deducting his or her own fees.